The Norse King's Bridal
BALLAD OF MIDSUMMER EVE
The throstle he roused him at fall of eve
And said to the owlet grey,
"Lo, brother, look through the dusky wood
And tell who comes this way."
The owlet stirred on the swaying bough
Of the slender birchen-tree:
"And seest thou not the minstrel-wight
A-roaming along the lea?"
"And what of the voice that comes with him,
The voice that sighs and sings?"
"Oh, that's the sound of the harp he bears
As the wind blows over the strings."
"And is it for love of a fair young maid
That his cheek is pale and wan?"
"Ay, a maid I wis, but never a kiss
Will she lay on the lips of man.
"He must sit all day at the ale-house door
Amid the talk o' the town,
With a merry stave for knight and knave
And a jest for the staring clown.
"But when bells are rung and songs are sung
And all men lie and sleep,
The merry minstrel forth must fare
His secret tryst to keep.
"The merry minstrel forth must fare,
All in the twilight dim,
To woo the queen o' Fairyland
That's cast a spell on him.
"Oh her form's the form of the lily-white
That sways to the breeze, and her breath
Is the scent o' the thyme and the blowing furze
And the honey that's stored in the heath.
"And her dark eyes' beam is the wavering
On the water that's wan to see
When the evening star hangs faint and far
Above the birchen-tree.
"And wouldst thou learn her secret lore,
Go, read the magic rune
That the writhen boughs of the thorn-tree
O' nights across the moon."
"And what's the guerdon he shall gain
By grace of the Fairy-queen?"
"Oh, a hope that's lost and a love that's
And tears and toil and tene,
"And feet astray in the paths of day,
And a song that cannot be sung---
For elfin music is wind and breath
When the matin-bell is rung.
"For the cock crows shrill, and the dew lines
And the faint stars die, withdrawn;
And elfin gold is withered leaves
At the coming of the dawn."